The Incomparable Uni

November 30th, 2011


What makes something a delicacy? Perhaps it is the rare nature of the food, the unique taste, the fineness of preparation, or some other generally pleasing intrinsic quality. In the case of uni, each of these apply.

Uni is the Japanese name for the edible part of sea urchin. Within the pointy spines of the sea urchin lies a treat for any adventurous diver. While it is colloquially referred to as the roe (eggs), uni is actually the organs that produce the roe — the sea urchin’s gonads. It ranges in color, from rich gold to light yellow, and has a creamy consistency that almost melts in your mouth. Uni has a light, sweet, somewhat briny flavor with an aroma similar to a bouquet of flowers. While cherished by many throughout the world, be aware that uni can be an acquired taste for some.

Harvesting uni is a very delicate process. A sea urchin contains five lobes, and harvesters must be careful because the meat falls apart easily. Uni is harvested all around the world, predominantly along the coasts of California and Maine.

Uni can be enjoyed at Zama anytime as sashimi, and is featured from time to time in sushi rolls. Try it by itself, with some soy sauce and wasabi. It is a good source of vitamins A, C and E, protein, fiber, iodine and calcium. The Japanese consider uni to be an aphrodisiac, so perhaps enjoy this delicacy with someone you love.

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